I really do not know how I would get by in the kitchen without boneless skinless chicken breasts. They are definitely a freezer necessity due to their versatility in taking on flavors from many types of food, they thaw in the microwave in no time flat and they have a really quick cooking time too. I spent the day in Shipshewana, IN yesterday, one of my favorite shopping and perusing jaunts, and arrived home late, tired and supremely starved. Fortunately for me, I was able to whip up an easy marinara sauce from a can of tomatoes in the pantry, pull some fresh mozzarella from the refrigerator, and a frozen chicken breast from the freezer. While the real deal chicken Parmesan is one of my favorite meals, I was not about to break out a breading station and trash my kitchen late last night in pursuit of a perfectly golden brown sauteed piece of chicken. I did, however, crave a tasty meal and still wanted those same chicken Parmesan flavors. The result was my lazy man's (or woman's in this case) chicken Parmesan which is also easy and much healthier than the traditional version.
I knew I would need something to soak up the tomato sauce so, I also prepared a bit of linguine according to the directions on the packet as well as a quick marinara. To prepare, start with a large sauce pan, cold, and about 1/4 cup of olive oil and 1-2 minced cloves of garlic. Add the garlic to the cold olive oil in the cold pan and then turn on the heat. Allowing the garlic to come up to temperature really infuses the oil with the garlic flavor. I also like to add about 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of hot pepper flakes as well, but that's optional. After the garlic begins to sizzle, but before it turns brown, add 1 large can of whole tomatoes. I like to use a potato masher to break up the tomatoes, but you can also squeeze them between your fingers, which is kind of fun too, or poke them with a fork. Add 2 teaspoons of salt, 1 tablespoon of sugar and a grinds of fresh cracked pepper. Let simmer for about 15-20 minutes, or until it has reached the proper consistency, and remove from the heat. Stir in about 1/2 cup of chopped fresh basil and you have a fabulous all-purpose marinara sauce.
To prepare the chicken part of the chicken Parmesan, I thawed the boneless skinless chicken breast in the microwave without cooking the edges and placed it between two pieces of parchment paper. I pounded the chicken breast with a rolling pin to an even thickness of about 1/4 - 1/2 inch and placed it in a small baking dish, uncooked. On top of the raw chicken breast I poured over the chunky tomato sauce and topped it with sliced fresh mozzarella and freshly shaved Parmesan cheese. After covering the dish with aluminum foil, I placed it in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes. I removed the foil and let it cook, uncovered for an additional 20 minutes or until the top was bubbly, brown and the chicken was cooked through.